took place when I was about ten years old. My parents divorced
when I was about six. After a couple of years my mother met
and married Leonard who turned out to be an excellent dad
to my brother, sister and me and a wonderful husband for my
mother. Our home was filled with happiness and laughter.
worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad repairing the railways
around the state. When the job site was too far from home,
he would carpool with two other men on the crew and they would
leave home late on Sunday evening and stay in campers at the
job site through the week. During these times we all eagerly
looked forward to Friday evenings when he would return home.
Sunday evenings brought heavy hearts because we knew he would
be leaving for work again, but Leonard would let us stay up
a little later than normal and play with us. After tucking
us all in, he would leave for work again. For about eighteen
months, this was our life, and it was good.
night in 1972 our routine went along normally and Leonard
tucked us all in. I had been sleeping for just a little while
when I awoke. I had no idea what had awakened me but I felt
a horrible sadness pressing down on me. While I lay awake,
my younger sister came into my room and sat on the edge of
my bed. She too had awakened with a sense of sadness but had
no idea why. We both began crying, sobbing but with no idea
why. Eventually we both cried ourselves to sleep on my bed.
know how long I'd been asleep when I woke up again to find
Leonard standing beside the bed looking down at my sister
and me. It was still very dark but I could see him clearly.
To this day I remember his words. He said, "Something
bad has happened and I need you to be strong for your mom
and for your brother and sister. You are going to be the man
of the house and you'll have to be strong. Your mom is going
to need you to be very strong." I had no idea what he
was talking about, but the feeling of smothering sadness was
gone. I remember drifting back to sleep with him standing
beside the bed watching over us.
later I was awakened by the sounds of my mother's screams
and our dog barking. Trembling in fear, I jumped from my bed
and ran down the stairs to find a State Trooper standing in
our living room trying to console my crying mother. The Trooper
had come to tell her that Leonard and the other two men he
rode with had all been killed instantly when their car was
struck head-on by a drunk driver who had crossed the center
divider. The accident had happened less than an hour after
he'd left home earlier in the evening.
is no question in my mind that my sister and I somehow felt
Leonard's death and that he loved our family so much that
he came back to bring me strength before the news was delivered.
Oct. 28th, 2006